Blattel Communications Founder and CEO Ellen Blattel recently sat down with Account Executive Vicky Jay and discussed the value of writing as a marketing and communications tool as part of our “Conversations with Ellen” series.
Vicky Jay (VJ): If you are a partner at a busy law firm, how can you find time to write? Should you look to tap associates as co-authors?
Ellen Blattel (EB): Absolutely tap associates as co-authors! Not only does it support a partner with limited time in developing content, but it elevates the associate, particularly if the partner is willing to include the associate’s name on the byline too. Additionally, engaging associates in article development demonstrates their significance to the firm, allows them insight into the firm’s business development processes, and reinforces the importance of using marketing tools for business generation.
VJ: Are practice group blogs mutually beneficial to byline article writing?
EB: All content development is beneficial, but professionals must be strategic – evaluate your target audience and determine how they prefer to receive information, then deliver. Generally, bylines in trade publications (print or online) are educational and offer credibility and visibility that can lead to new business. Depending on the practice area, maintaining a blog and/or contributing to leading blogs in the space can also drive leads. In all cases, blog postings and byline articles should be leveraged to support each other – byline content can often be placed on a blog, and conversely, blogs can lead to opportunities for byline article publishing.
VJ: What’s the best process for developing articles for publication?
EB: Again, upfront strategy is critical. Work backwards. First, identify your target audience. Who are you trying to reach? Where do they fit within their organizations – C-level executives, managers or in-house attorneys? What industry are they in? Then, consider what’s keeping those potential clients up at night. Answering these questions will help determine topics on which you might write and potential outlets for the article. The topic should then be preplaced, based on a short synopsis of the article, to ensure there is interest and to secure all author guidelines. After this is completed, the article can be written and edited – specifically (and strategically) for the desired audience/outlet.
VJ: Once a byline article is published, how can it be leveraged?
EB: The content should be leveraged on firm bios, LinkedIn profiles, blogs, e-newsletters and other social media channels. When really applying strategy, we’ll look at an attorney’s target clients and see what topics resonate. From there published articles can and should be shared with potential and existing clients and referral sources – ideally with a personalized note that offers insight into why the article is pertinent to the recipient.
VJ: Do you ever advise a client – looking to market themselves but struggling to write – to choose an alternate vehicle?
EB: It depends on the client. If there’s existing content that has been developed for other purposes, such as speaking engagement outlines, we’ll recommend using that as a starting point to help get the creative juices flowing. If an author is still having trouble approaching the subject or relevant content isn’t available, a “Top 10 Tips” angle is a great way to go. The most common challenge tends to be timing. If that’s the case, and we feel like an article is an important business development tool, we’ll work with the author to get to a rough draft that we can then edit and finalize. We’ve also set up interviews to discuss a topic and ghostwrite content. Because we see such a strong correlation between content and new business, we try to help our clients overcome any adversity to writing (maybe a podcast!?!).